Bourbons are a class of Old Garden Roses that sort of form the bridge between the once-blooming European OGRs and the repeat-blooming Chinese OGRs. The legend of their origin is that a seedling was found (and later named 'Rose Edouard') on the Isle de Bourbon, off Madagascar, which was presumed to be a cross between the China 'Old Blush' and a repeat-blooming Damask -- possibly 'Quatre Saisons', or perhaps one of the early Damask Perpetuals. This rose combined the fragrance of the Damasks with the slightly sweet scent of the Chinas, along with their rebloom. The rose was propagated -- both asexually and via seeds -- and brought back to Europe, where it begat a new race of roses.
But there's something fishy about that story. For one, there was no record of Damasks being grown on that island. For another, 'Rose Edouard' appears to be a "strain" of similar roses -- probably arising from self-set seed -- which seems to date back much earlier, and was known in India for quite some time, being raised for rosewater production as well as being used as rootstock. What I think happened was that what was called a seedling was actually a sucker from this rootstock, and it didn't result as a first-generation cross between a repeat-blooming Damask and 'Old Blush'. It probably arose from some similar cross, which was "set" as a type by self-seeding over generations. There's another Bourbon which probably originated similarly -- the found-rose known here as "Maggie" has been rediscovered in other parts of the world, carrying other names and having a history going back for far longer than its supposed introduction date of 1900 under the name 'Eugene E. Marlitt'. Go to HelpMeFind for more information on that.
Anyway, Bourbons became popular and were crossed with roses of other types -- Chinas, Noisettes, and Teas -- which resulted in Bourbons of several types. Some of the crosses with Teas also expanded the Tea class, and the Bourbon-Tea 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' grandfathered a line of Tea-Noisettes through its offspring 'Gloire de Dijon'. So it's hard to generalize about Bourbons, being as they're such a mixed bag.
Adding to this are the Hybrid Bourbons, which (usually) resulted from Bourbons being crossed with once-blooming old European roses like Gallicas and Damasks, or in the case of some Geschwind roses, Bourbons crossed with any cold-hardy once-blooming rose. (I say "usually" because two roses called Hybrid Bourbons -- 'Blairii No. 1' and 'Blairii No. 2' -- are said to have been the result of the cross 'Park's Yellow Tea-Scented China' X 'Tuscany', i.e. Tea X Gallica.) They are also once-blooming, but their bloom season tends to last longer than that of the "pure" European OGRs -- the China/Tea genes seem to make them start blooming earlier, and keeps them from stopping short when the heat rolls in. So for people in warmer climates, the Hybrid Bourbons offer an alternative to the "pure" European once-blooming OGRs that need more Winter chill to bloom.
I'll start with one of mine, which I got from Vintage Gardens:
'Souvenir de Victor Landeau' -- Bourbon, 1890
I've had some issues with encroaching shade in my garden, so this year I tackled that by giving the Callery pear a much-needed crew-cut -- again. Last year, so many roses and other plants were leaning for light, and later battling fungal issues, so this year I "hit the reset button" on quite a few by giving them a harsher-than-usual late Winter prune. 'Souvenir de Victor Landeau' was one of them, and it looks a bit gawky as a result. I sort of "air pegged" this rose to bamboo stakes, and cut away entirely any canes showing any signs of disease or damage. I knew this wouldn't leave much, but I also knew that, as a long-caned Bourbon, this rose would be more than eager to send new canes after the first flush. So its appearance this year is only temporary, and its new canes will be trained back the way I had them in previous years.
I mentioned "diseased canes" because I saw something -- maybe canker? -- that affected them, but as far as foliage goes, this is actually one of my cleanest roses without fungicide. 'Souvenir de Victor Landeau' keeps clean leaves until about October -- which is rather amazing for a Bourbon in New Jersey.
Here is 'Souvenir de Victor Landeau' in front of the evergreen trunk on May 1st of this year, after being pruned, and tied to bamboo stakes for "air pegging". Normally, I'd peg it far closer to the ground, but those canes stiffened too much before I got around to training them.
On May 22nd, it opened its first blooms for the year.
And more soon followed.
This rose took some time to get going. I got it as a band from Vintage Gardens in Spring 2012, but it didn't bloom until 2013. In the meantime, it grew long canes. The pics below are from August 2012 -- four months after coming as a band.
Once those long canes had matured, they produced its first blooms, in late May 2013.
Then new canes -- either from the roots, or as basals emerging from existing canes -- produced blooms for the second half of the flush, extending the bloom from late May through until about July 4th. In the pic below -- taken June 13, 2013 -- you can see more buds forming.
The heat made it pause, aside from a few scattered blooms, until it readied for another long flush from late August until late September or early October. And that's the cycle I've come to learn it has -- first blooms on canes made last year, followed by blooms on sturdy new shoots before they reach full size, then pushing those new canes to grow long, and then last year's canes bloom for a second time in the end of Summer, followed by one more wave from the new canes. Generally, I'm noticing that canes get exhausted by the end of their second year, and look as though they've had the juice sucked out from within by the following Spring. That's when I cut them out, and train the previous year's canes into their places. And that cycle continues from year to year. I think this can be generalized for how most long-caned Bourbons will grow and bloom -- especially if they are pegged. There's only so much those canes can bloom before they're exhausted, but new canes will keep growing to replace them.
This is 'Souvenir de Victor Landeau' in Spring 2014, just before blooming for its first Spring in the ground after being planted the end of the previous Summer. This general way is how I continued to train the rose, but in 2016 and 2017, my job kept me out of the garden too much, and some things grew a bit too unrestrained.
And this is it blooming a few weeks later.
Spring 2015 -- just before the first flush.
And the 2015 first flush, with its neighbor 'Golden Celebration'.
By July 11, 2015, the flush was coming to a close.
Here it is just before the flush in 2016.
And here during its 2016 first flush.
2017's first flush was produced on canes going in weird directions because I started a new job in 2016 that had me working something like 60 hours a week through the growing season, and things grew without guidance. Rather than cut all the wayward canes back, I just secured them so they wouldn't whip around, enjoyed the bloom, then cut back to get things under control again.
But, again, work got in the way, and by the end of September, this is what I had.
Well, the good thing about these old roses is that they're pretty tough, and can handle a hard prune once in a while to hit the "reset button", and grow back again quickly.
I made a long first post in this thread because 'Souvenir de Victor Landeau' is a special to me. It's no longer sold by any US nursery, yet is so healthy in foliage and fragrant in bloom that I wonder how that could have happened. Did names like this go out of style? Is it that people don't like dealing with big, gangly roses anymore? Or was this one of the oddballs Vintage Gardens imported and no one else bothered to carry? I don't know. It's not my only Bourbon, but it's my favorite.